Whenever I have tough, burning questions about the New York sports scene, where do I go for answers? Who can I turn to? Some sports fans call Mike Francesa. Others consult Boomer and Carton. And some unburden themselves on their poor, unsuspecting psychiatrist. Me? I go to Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets and confer with the life-size statue of Ralph Kramden that stands outside the Port Authority. He's silent, yet confident. He stands tall. He fills me with hope for a better a tomorrow, that the next crazy get-rich scheme just might be the one that works. And, of course, he's an opinionated sports fan.
So this morning on my way to work, I parked myself in front of the portly bus driver for a few minutes and let loose on a barrage of questions: What in the name of the Gotham Bus Company happened to the New York Giants on Sunday? Will the New York Rangers, with their all-for-one Raccoon Lodge-like spirit, be able to keep up their winning ways? Will Sandy Alderson be a success, and transform the New York Mets into the highly-thought-of, first-class organization it was in the 1980s and late-'60s? Or will Mets fans want to send him--bang, zoom--to the moon? Oh Great One, will Carmelo Anthony be coming to New York or New Jersey (and then on to your home borough of Brooklyn)? Will the New York Knicks ever stop telling us that "Eddy Curry is cleared for practice"? Is the always hustling Landry Fields the next David Lee? Should Santonio Holmes have done The Hucklebuck after he scored the game-winning touchdown in Cleveland? Which New York player would you like to hit--pow, right in the kisser? Were PSLs concocted by Alice and Trixie as payback for all those late nights at the bowling alley? Is it too early for the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders to start working on their golf game, Ed Norton-style: "Hellooooo, ball!"?
Do I ever get any actual answers from Ralph? In my own way, I'd like to think that I do. Sometimes just asking the questions is enough. And now on to the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports:
The Night the Lights Went Out in East Rutherford: When the power went out in the New Meadowlands the Giants should have made a run for it. They just can't handle prosperity. People everywhere started talking about them as the top team in the NFL, and they played like, well, the Cowboys on Sunday. The defense was awful, the execution was awful, the intensity was awful, the stadium was awful. They've been sloppy even in victory, so the foreshadowing for this game has been there. Should they just throw this one away and forget all about it? Learn lessons from it? Act as a wake-up call? To paraphrase Lou Brown, let's see how they react on Sunday against the Eagles. And we'll also have to see if they can scare up anyone to catch Eli Manning's passes, with Ramses Barden being the latest receiver to join the injury party.
Just Win in OT, Baby: How many storylines did this game have? We had the Mangini Bowl, the Ryan Brothers Bowl, the Braylon Edwards Getting Booed Bowl, the rematch of the first-ever Monday Night Football game and a rematch of the double overtime playoff game on January 3, 1987, with Mark Gastineau's roughing the quarterback penalty. The New York Jets are ugly, exciting, sloppy, resilient, tough, good, bad and everything in between. But they're winners. Mark Sanchez may be a pretty boy off the field, but he's a gamer on it. And he plays his best when the game is on the line. What a two weeks for Nick Folk, though. He comes through in the clutch twice against Detroit, and then clanks three in Cleveland. He owes Santonio Holmes a Thanksgiving dinner. And every member of the team owes Jerricho Cotchery a turkey leg for the catch of the year he made on Sunday.
Is the 'Stache Trash? That didn't take long. Only a few weeks into the season, the talking points center around firing Mike D'Antoni. Remember when there was optimism, hope for a new Knicks personality? We'd be saying goodbye to the losing culture that has permeated the team for ages. Well, it seems like old times. Amar'e Stoudemire, wandering around the city this summer as the King of New York, has already questioned his team's heart and desire. Maybe D'Antoni should do a reverse Tom Coughlin, stop with the nice-guy act and instill some tough love, discipline, defense and insist that the team stop chucking up three-pointers every trip down the court. And he should start team meetings five minutes early, too. Was their win in Sacramento the beginning of a turnaround? Or just their one victory for the week?
Hat Trick: It was an exciting week for the Rangers. They won in a blowout, came out on top in a thriller and lost a close one. Marian Gaborik got his season rolling with a hat trick in Sunday's demolition of Edmonton. Sean Avery may or may not have sucker punched Ladislav Smid (don't ask Erik Christensen about it, though), which produced a giant brawl--always exciting on a Sunday afternoon. Ryan Callahan had a Gordie Howe hat trick in Monday's exhilarating win, and teamed up with Brandon Dubinsky for a beautiful game-winning tally in overtime. And Wednesday's hat trick? The three reasons why they lost: Boston goalie Tim Thomas, the inability to score on a third-period five-on-three and a softie let in by Henrik Lundqvist. Wednesday was also Heritage Night (Brad Park! Eddie Giacomin!), and the team debuted their old-school jerseys. Maybe they should play a Heritage game: No curved sticks, no helmets and all the trimmings from 1927.
You're Fired: A 10-game losing streak was the last straw, as Scott Gordon was fired by Garth Snow this week. He never really had a chance, did he? Jack Capuano (of the Bridgeport Capuanos) takes over, and Gordon will remain with the team in an advisory role. The losing continued in Capuano's debut, though, and the Islanders are closing in on the team record, which is a 0-12-3 streak from their debut season of 1972-'73.
Newark, Newark: The Garden State twins continue to struggle. The Nets lost two of three, but they've upped their toughness factor. Devin Harris was ejected in their lone win this week against the Clippers when he committed a flagrant foul. And Kris Humphries has become a rebounding machine, hauling in 15, 12, 7 and 18 boards in his last four games. Things just keep getting worse for the Devils. They lost two more games, they can't score and Martin Brodeur had to leave Thursday's game after reaggravating his right elbow. The big question on everyone's mind: How long will John MacLean last?
Who's the Boss? Sadly, Sandy Alderson' 87-year-old father, an Air Force pilot who served in three different wars, was killed last weekend when he was hit by a car. But Alderson, showing more mental toughness and discipline than the Mets have had in years, went on with his managerial search. He interviewed Jose Oquendo early in the week, and then he met with the final four: Terry Collins, Bob Melvin, Wally Backman and Chip Hale. Meanwhile, the Yankees are taking a tough stance with both Derek Jeter (three-year deal, no lifetime contract) and also their fans, who they're gouging once again by raising ticket prices. Cy Young voters took a tough stance with CC Sabathia, as he came in third to Felix Hernandez. And Juan Miranda was shipped off to Arizona for 19-year-old pitcher Scott Allen.
(For in-depth analysis and discussion of the Giants, Jets, Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders and Devils, go to SB Nation's Big Blue View, Gang Green Nation, Pinstripe Alley, Amazin' Avenue, Posting and Toasting, NetsDaily, Blueshirt Banter, Lighthouse Hockey and In Lou We Trust, respectively.)